Yogeshwar Dutt emerged the costliest Indian grappler in the inaugural Pro Wrestling League (PWL) auctions in New Delhi on Tuesday.
Dutt was picked up by Haryana for Rs. 39.70 lakhs even as two-time Olympic medallist Sushil Kumar was bought for Rs. 38.20 lakh by Uttar Pradesh.
However, it was Ukraine's Oksana Herhel who drew the overall highest bid after being bought for a whopping Rs. 41.30 lakhs by Haryana.
A total of six franchises representing Delhi, Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Mumbai and Bangalore purchased 54 wrestlers with each team getting to pick nine players -- five Indians and four foreigners.
During the tournament, every team would be required to field mandatory five Indians and four foreign wrestlers, which would include five men and four women.
Each team bought an icon player -- Sushil (74kg), Yogeshwar (65kg), Narsingh Yadav (74kg), Geeta Phogat (Female 58kg), Adeline Gray (USA, 69+kg) and Sofia Mattison (Sweden, Female 53kg) -- whose base price was kept at Rs. 33 lakhs.
The bid for the Olympic and World Championship winners also started at the base price of Rs. 33 lakhs and each team had a purse of Rs. 2 crore.
After Yogeshwar, London Olympic bronze medallist, and Sushil, Narsingh expectedly picked up the third highest amount among Indian wrestlers with Bengaluru buying him for Rs. 34.50 lakhs.
Mumbai bought Adeline for Rs. 37 lakhs.
Geeta and Sofia went for their base price of Rs. 33 lakh each to Punjab and Delhi teams, respectively.
About 100 top international wrestlers from 25 countries, including Olympic and World Championship stars, went under the hammer.
Meanwhile, other Indians -- Amit Dahiya (57kg), Rahul Aware (57kg), Bajrang (65kg), Amit Dhankar (65kg), Mausam Khatri (97kg), Satyavrat (97kg), Hitender (125kg), Vinesh Phogat (Female 48kg) and Babita Kumari (Female 53kg) – also managed to bag good prices at the auction.
Babita, whose base price was Rs. 23 lakhs, was finally bought by UP for Rs. 34.10 lakhs after an aggressive bidding by Punjab and UP, while Vinesh with a base price of Rs 20 lakhs, was sold to Delhi for Rs 29.70 lakhs.
Satyavrat bagged Rs. 20 lakhs from UP franchise and Mausam was bought for 16 lakhs by Punjab after starting at base price of Rs. 10 lakhs each.
Amit Dahiya was sold for Rs. 30.10 lakhs (Haryana), Bajrang for Rs 29.50 lakhs (Bengaluru), Amit Dhankar for 29.30 lakhs (Mumbai), Aware for Rs. 26.60 lakhs (Mumbai).
Among the top internationals, Belarus' Vasilisa Marzaliuk (Female 69+kg), Pavlo Oliynik of Ukraine (97kg), Georgia's Petriashvili Geno (125kg), Turkey's Esilirmak Elif Jale (Female 58kg), Ukraine's Kogut Oleksandra (Female 48kg) and Tatyana Kit (Female 53kg), besides Herhel also fetched good prices.
Earlier, the auction started with Sushil, as the first icon player, to go under the hammer and straight away Delhi bidded at the base price with UP joining in.
After some rigorous bidding from both the franchises, UP managed to buy the two-time Olympic medallist for a price that the team's owner, P Sahel termed as "lucky buy".
"We got lucky to have got Sushil for such a price. The bidding process started with him and everyone was just warming up. We were lucky to have acquired him. We were ready to go up to Rs 50 lakhs for Sushil," Sahel said.
For Yogeshwar, it was mainly a two-way tussle between Haryana and Mumbai but the former had the last laugh.
"We did not go for Sushil. We wanted to have Yogeshwar and build the team rather than go for individuals," said Haryana team owner, Jagdish Kaliraman.
Haryana, in their bid to build a strong team, spent a huge sum of money on Herhel, who won the gold medal in women's 58kg category at the World Championship in Las Vegas in September.
Punjab, meanwhile, invested as much as Rs 40.20 lakhs on Marzaliuk from her base price of Rs 23 lakhs. She had won the bronze in women's 69+kg category in World Championship.
Pavlo went to Bangalore, Geno and Jale to Delhi, Kogut to UP and Tatyana to Haryana.
The League is likely to start on December 10 and the grand finale is scheduled for December 27, informed Vishal Gurnani, Director of Sportify Pvt Limited, the commercial partners of PWL.
"The venues will be Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Ludhiana, Noida and Gurgaon," he said.
Gurnani also said that 6-10 players, who have not been picked in the auction, will figure in the players' pool or on the bench of the franchises in case the main wrestlers get injured.